Distance Learning and Student Visa Extensions: What You Need To Know

Students enrolled in distance learning programs at foreign schools only need a student visa if their program requires any on-campus instruction. Standard student visas allow for 1-3 years of study abroad, though if less time is required, a visitor's visa may be sufficient.

Individuals who are considering distance learning online programs outside their country of origin may need a student visa. It can be helpful for these students to learn about possible extensions, general requirements and visa fees before starting one of these programs.

When Do Distance Learning Programs Require a Student Visa?

Typically, distance learning programs are completed through online coursework and do not require students to obtain a student visa. However, if any part of the program requires travel to the foreign country, a student or tourist visa may be required. Each country has its own restrictions and fees associated with student visas, and students should check with the foreign consulate and school before enrolling in an academic program.

Student Visa Extensions

Visa extension requirements vary depending on the country, but in general, students who need an extension must fill out an application and submit it to the government. In some countries, this application must be filed within a certain time before the visa's expiration date. For instance, in Canada, students who want to extend their study permit must apply at least 30 days before the expiration date.

It is important to note that, in some countries, it may not always be possible for a student to get a visa that lasts for the entire length of the program, so periodic renewal may be necessary. For example, in New Zealand, if your university does not have an agreement with Immigration NZ to offer full-program visas, you will need to renew your visa each year, either on campus or online.

Student Visa Requirements

Some countries in the European Union allow students to travel and study without requiring a visa. The Schengen agreement, which was signed in 1985 and incorporated into EU law in 1999, allows for free travel between all EU countries except those that opted out (Ireland and the United Kingdom). Students traveling from non-member countries may require a visa or other documentation during their stay within the country's borders or if traveling through the country.

When applying for a student or study visa, students must provide information that includes:

  • Length of stay in the country
  • Documented proof of college or university acceptance and enrollment
  • A valid passport and additional photographs
  • Adequate financial means for the duration of the visit
  • Current health insurance and immunization records
  • Travel or lodging itinerary
  • Return travel arrangements to the student's country of residence

Student Visa Fees

Several countries allow students to receive study visas free of charge. Other countries charge fees that range from a minimal amount to hundreds of dollars. Students should check with the host country for the cost of a student visa. Here are some of the visa fees for U.S. students who are studying abroad, as of 2017:

Country Visa Type Length of Stay Visa Fee
Australia Student Length of program $550
Ecuador Non-immigrant 1 year $130 (includes $30 application fee)
Egypt Student Varies $15-$55
Germany Study Length of program $65-$70
Mexico Student 180 days $36
New Zealand Student Length of program $215 (for hard copy)
Russia Student Single Entry $445 (includes $160 service fee)
South Africa Study 3 year maximum $36
China Student Regular Length of program $140

For foreign students in distance learning programs, extension requirements and visa fees differ based on country. Students must supply extensive personal information when they apply.


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